Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #101

Credits:

“The Human Torch”

Cover Date: October 1962

Writer: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artist: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, is taking a break from his Fantastic Four duties by visiting his hometown of Greenville. While trying to keep a low profile, Johnny witnesses people’s lives being put in danger at the local amusement park, which is under construction. It seems that someone called the Destroyer is behind the industrial sabotage, and only the Human Torch can stop him.

Is It Good?

No, it is not. The creative team here is the same as it is on Fantastic Four, but focusing solely on Johnny only highlights how obnoxious his character is. The plot is nonsensical at best. The art…well, the art is still Jack Kirby, so that’s fine.

Sub-Plots:

  • Johnny wants to keep his identity as the Human Torch a secret, so he has to create diversions so he can transform into the Torch unnoticed.
  • The Thing sees a newspaper article where the Destroyer publicly challenges the Human Torch, so he tries to help his teammate. Johnny dismisses the Thing, wanting to handle the matter on his own.
  • The Destroyer was sabotaging only the amusement park rides that had a clear view of the beach. Why? Because there was a surfaced Soviet submarine at the beach. The Destroyer was feeding them intelligence.

Continuity:

  • It is specifically mentioned that the four friends shown in Fantastic Four #4 were the only civilians that knew Johnny Storm was the Human Torch. They have all moved away and are all keeping his secret.
  • This is the first spin-off story (a character from one comic getting their own title/series) of Marvel’s Silver Age.
  • This issue has diagrams of Johnny’s apartment.
  • The Torch can apparently control flames near him.
  • Torch can also create flame duplicates of himself, and make them move with his command over nearby flames (I’m guessing)

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Johnny wants to keep his identity secret, despite it not being a secret that his sister is Invisible Girl.
  • Johnny wants to keep his identity a secret, despite appearing at a fancy dinner with the US Congress in costume the same month that this issue was published.
  • According to the diagram of Johnny’s home, he has a “small lab where [he] experiments with chemicals that will help prolong the burning time of his flame.” My understanding of the Human Torch is that he isn’t a scientist and isn’t really interested in science, so I am genuinely curious if I am mistaken, or if this is something that will be ignored soon.
  • The Destroyer is wearing a costume that disguises his identity, he has put out the Torch’s flame, and he is armed with a gun. And…he runs away because he spots some teens in the woods?
  • I love that the communist submarine —- that, let’s not forget, appears to be on a mission to secretly gather intelligence —- surfaced in enemy waters at a time that they weren’t expecting to be actively receiving information from the Destroyer. They just…parked the sub and we’re hanging out?
  • Who doesn’t love a Scooby-Doo ending?
  • You’ve got to love the pessimist in this group.

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